Search engine optimization will continue to evolve as Google’s algorithms and the public’s search intent will also continue to change. Optimizing websites in 2020 will be a challenging task for digital marketers. There are important updates that must be considered to successfully reach potential customers and clients. Here are a few of the foundational concepts that you’ll be able to rely on in the coming year.
Featured Snippets Gain Importance
Featured snippets will play a significant role in SERPs in 2020. The number one advantage of these types of listings is that they are “featured” above all other results. These types of search result rankings usually appear above the first ranking organic result and are commonly referred to as “Position 0”. That means if you want to see the highest possible placement on the page, optimize to receive a featured snippet.
For your website to receive a featured snippet and gain more traffic, you need to have content with clear answers to common questions. The quality of your answers determines whether or not Google will reward you with a featured snippet. This new SEO trend is key to digital marketing success in 2020. According to a study by Ahrefs, featured snippets are taking clicks away from the #1 ranking organic search result.
Content creators must take advantage of this great opportunity to get more organic traffic and optimize for a featured snippet when applicable.
Grab Space in the Local Pack
Local companies want to spend more time in the Local Pack listings. These listings have a higher prominence and provide the kind of visibility businesses need.
That’s why a Google My Business Page is rapidly becoming a must-have digital real estate. Grab one to make it easier to rank for “near me” style searches. Increase category and brand visibility the fastest way by claiming a listing. Once that’s done, it’s worth trying to get as many citations as possible from reputable local authorities. These citations help any listing rise in the local listing box, making it more clickable. The closer you get to the very first result, the better.
Rankings Require Excellent Mobile UX
Mobile web pages are becoming more important for SEO and a website will lose traffic if there is no mobile version. It is estimated that mobile search users in the U.S. are projected to grow to 215.8 million by 2020. With the advancement of smartphone technology and how users search for information, just having a mobile website isn’t enough. Your mobile website needs to have an interface that grabs the user’s attention and has all the information they are looking for easily accessible. Creating the ultimate UX for your mobile site will put you ahead of the competition. Fast-loading and responsive pages that help users achieve their objectives quickly are always the best option.
Never Give up on Creating High-Quality Content
As always, Google emphasizes delivering the best possible search results to its users. That means they’re looking for expert content that achieves the highest standards of excellence. It’s not easy to create these types of pieces, but it results in top rankings.
Companies that aren’t willing to produce the highest level of quality content will fall behind as the SERPs grow in competitiveness. Double down on your commitment to offering the best, and you can keep up with leaders in your industry. Before long, most low-quality content will be gone forever from the SERPs. Stay way ahead of the curve and keep pushing the boundaries to stay current.
AI Is Expanding Rapidly
Machine learning and AI are a growing part of the search ecosystem. That means that algorithms are getting smarter and have a deeper understanding of user queries. As they advance, that knowledge will help find answers faster. Not only that, searchers will learn a new way of looking for answers because so many of their queries require personalized solutions. Google’s most recent update, BERT, is only the beginning of Google’s advancement into language understanding.
AI might mean that optimizing using the old methods is no longer as applicable. That would point, again, to the idea of focusing on foundational principles to find success. That beats attempting to “game” a system that keeps getting smarter.
Voice Search Continues to Grow in Importance
It’s no surprise that voice assistant devices like Alexa and Google Home are altering how people search. That means websites will have to switch up their strategies to keep pace. Most people will enter long queries using voice search, so they’re looking for precise answers.
It pays to write more conversationally on your content pieces. That way, it will more closely mimic the types of answers people desire. This area is growing fast as one of the most exciting aspects of modern SEO, so it’s worth studying how to optimize for voice. If you plan on increasing your rankings going forward into 2020, high rankings in voice search is a perfect avenue.
Secure Websites Are No Longer Optional
Securing your website and its pages with HTTPS is no longer just a request. Google demands that all web pages have a padlock, or they will no longer send much traffic. That means outdated pages that have long been online and ranked with no changes will need to be updated.
That move shows that Google is moving away from ranking pages based solely on its historical value. They want to know that the webmaster is still active. Most importantly, HTTPS is useful for users because it prevents snooping by third parties. It’s worth adding for usability reasons alone, and an increase in rankings is a bonus. Stay up to speed with technology if you want to stay in Google’s good graces.
Optimize Site for Usability and Speed
No matter what, it’s always a good idea to make users love your site. If they don’t, they leave it instead! That means a lot of testing to ensure that you’re getting the type of performance metrics you want. Users will bounce from a website that is ugly or loads slow, so pay attention to the bounce rate.
Cutting down the bounce rate and keeping visitors around for longer is a strategy to increase rankings. Google won’t waste traffic by sending it to sites that don’t appeal to their average user. They want to ensure the website works correctly and provides the ideal answer. Anything less than that will have their searches switching to alternatives.
New Metrics Become Primary Factors
Dwell time and Click-Through-Rate (CTR) are rising stars in the search ecosystem. Once again, they’re a sign of a quality page. These metrics indicate the page title was compelling, and then once the visitors arrive, the content is good enough to keep them around.
Dwell time indicates that the visitor is spending time absorbing the information. They’re not just quickly landing, deciding they don’t like something, and leaving fast. Instead, they’re using the web page in a way that indicates it provides useful experience and a comprehensive answer.
Don’t Neglect Video Optimization
Video is an incredible value channel. Get more out of videos by optimizing the descriptions, tags, and titles to generate more search engine traffic. The videos themselves are excellent content, but it pays to go a step further to ensure the broadest possible audience is seeing them.
YouTube is a significant source of search traffic, so optimizing videos and uploading them to that platform is smart. That way, you can get more traffic to your website, but you’ll also see an increase in views on their platform. Plus, they allow links in the description field so the video can refer people back to crucial landing pages. Taking advantage of video search will increase your audience size substantially.
Develop an Influencer Strategy
Leveraging the power of social media influencers has a beneficial impact on both social authority and website SEO. Influencers can help create powerful links that bring traffic and SEO value to your web pages.
Influencer marketing has caught on with big brands because it helps grow the audience affordably. Naturally, they also enjoy the additional benefits of more links. Smaller businesses have been slower to embrace the strategy, but it will work well in 2020. The way to build an audience is to leverage search engines and influencers who command significant presences. They can get the word out faster than most alternative methods.
Putting It All Together Is the Key
Perhaps the most crucial lesson of all for 2020 SEO is that it will require putting every detail together to rank. It’s not nearly enough to maintain a fast-loading website that is unprofessional and provides a poor user experience. It will only count if the site meets both needs equally. No longer will Google, or its users, tolerate pages with errors and technical issues. No webmaster may ignore the requirement for HTTPS encryption.
Ranking first in search engines in 2020 requires understanding all of the various ranking factors and working them to your benefit. It will take time and effort to get there, but all fantastic things require such a push. In 2020, only the strong will survive the battle to the top of the rankings. Any digital marketers who aren’t willing to put forth a strong effort will see their traffic levels diminish.
Once traffic fades, it’s harder to invest in your digital properties. That’s why it’s so vital to avoid any erosion in organic rankings. Once those pages drop too far, there’s a point of no return. Keep up with the constant algorithm tweaking and avoid suffering a downward spiral. It’s never easy to stay up with technology, but there’s no other way to keep your site in line with demands. You may also decide to hire outside SEO help. Their job is tracking changes, so they’ll have up-to-date information that helps keep your site at the top in 2020 and beyond.
SEO in Northern VA
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